From the Arcata Eye:
Note: The following letters were submitted sequentially to different newspapers. The third one came in Wednesday, Oct. 20. To understand it, we’ve added the first two, starting with a Sept. 21 letter to the HSU Lumberjack (which included the writer’s home phone number), then a Sept. 30 response sent to both the Lumberjack and the Eye. – Ed.
During the last school year, a student at Humboldt State University was raped. The Arcata Police Department investigated the crime and apprehended the rapist, who had left the state of California. The case was handed over to Paul Gallegos, district attorney. For whatever reason, he decided not to prosecute. Detective Martinez from the Arcata Police Department had done an outstanding job in handling the crime. In essence, he did his homework.
Paul Gallegos is again running for office of District Attorney. Personally, I would not vote for him for dog catcher. I strongly encourage you to vote for Allison Jackson, who has a background in crimes of this nature and is more than qualified to enforce the law. Students and the residents in Humboldt County deserve stronger support, representation, and justice in this particular area of the law.
I recently read a letter sent in by Mr. Cheek to the Lumberjack to which I must respond.
It is unfortunate that Mr. Cheek, who describes himself as an educator would write such an ill-informed and ignorant post. While Mr. Cheek may support Ms. Jackson, this does not give him or anyone else the right to be so fast and loose with the truth. Mr. Cheek knows nothing about the case of which he writes. Up until today, I would have said that I doubt Ms. Jackson would approve of such an attack so devoid of facts; I was apparently wrong.
I can tell you that I was the handling attorney on the case about which Mr. Cheek writes. Out of respect for the young woman and her privacy I will not write of any of the details. Detective Martinez and I both worked very hard on this case; in the end the young woman, on no uncertain terms, made it clear that she would not cooperate or participate in the prosecution. This was after the case was charged; the suspect in question was extradited and housed in the jail for several weeks. Without her testimony, the People could not proceed and therefore the charges were dismissed.
Mr. Cheek, you sir were not a witness to the events of this alleged crime; nor were you privy to the communications between the young woman and Detective Martinez; nor were you a party to the communications between myself and this young woman. Before you made comment perhaps you should have educated yourself.
To do anything less is an insult to Detective Martinez, APD and the District Attorney’s Office.
I read a response today sent by Kelly Neel, Deputy District Attorney, regarding a letter sent by Coach Cheek regarding my daughter who was a victim of a serious crime. Please let me introduce myself. My name is Angela Hampton and I am the victims’ mother. This year will mark 30 years for me with the State of California. I have worked directed with District Attorneys’, Administrative Law Judges, Provided Expert Testimony for the State of California, Law Enforcement Agencies, Legislators and Policymakers. I feel pretty qualified on how the “system” operates and I’m not going away anytime too soon.
Ms. Neel may criticize Coach Cheek for being uneducated but I’m not. I commend Coach Cheek’s actions. I know little about him but I do know one thing, he has a strong military, “no nonsense background.” He is pretty “straight up” – something the Humboldt DA Office does not possess!
It is apparent that cases are repeatedly dismissed, charges reduced and where the Humboldt DA Office has gone soft on the serious offenders. It definitely looks like a pattern of behavior that sacrifices justice and lets criminals off with light sentences or no sentences at all. Mr. Gallegos and Kelly Neel couldn’t be further from the truth regarding my daughter’s case. The communication was the poorest that I have encountered in my 30 years of civil service work especially concerning victims of serious crimes.
Deceit to the public should not be tolerated. My daughter and I deserve an answer and deserve the truth. We are still waiting for the truth. On the contrary, my daughter was fully cooperative and still remains fully cooperative regarding the case and she awaits the decision from the Attorney General’s Office. The Attorney General’s Office didn’t accept the case for review for nothing. They were “interested” because something looks wrong.
On July 28, 2010 my daughter filed a complaint with U.S Attorney General Eric Holder and Attorney General Edmund Brown. The case is currently being investigated and pending an answer. The request for the solution from my daughter is to refile the charges against the perpetuator because there was no answer or intelligent reason why the case was dismissed. That doesn’t sound like someone that is “uncooperative.” My daughter even claims, “the perpetuator could have at least gotten community service.”
Here is what I think happened. There was a preliminary hearing in the case and the defendant was held to answer on the charges. Jeremiah Ross conducted the preliminary and the defendant was bound over on July 15th. The court set the rearraignment on the information and not the complaint for July 29th. Then for some unknown reason Ms. Neel scheduled it to be advanced for a dismissal on July 22, 2010 without notifying the victim and the family. A couple of conversations took place between Kelly and I. First she blamed it on Jeremiah Ross (does he know that), then she tried to blame it on my daughter’s cooperation, then Mr. Gallegos informs my husband and I that there was a third party witness who he refuses to tell us the name.
I challenge both Kelly Neel and Paul Gallegos to the truth. Let me know the day, time and place.
Please call me for additional information or the letter to the Attorney General’s Office. Thank you.
Note: The following letter was forwarded by the alleged rape victim’s mother. She says it was sent to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and California Attorney General Edmund Brown. – Ed.
July 28, 2010
Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
RE: Dismissal of Charges and Release of [accused rapist's name redacted] on July 22, 2010
District Attorney of Humboldt County – Paul Gallegos
Case No. CR1003266
Dear Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr:
The Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office, Paul Gallegos, failed to protect me by releasing [name of accused redacted] on July 22, 2010 by dismissing all charges with absolutely no contact to me as the victim. Attached is a press release that was issued from the Arcata Police Department with serious charges stemming from rape to false imprisonment in which I suffered physical and mental trauma.
Among the most disturbing findings and decisions made on this case are:
Based on the strong evidence, [name of accused redacted] was extradited all the way from the State of Kentucky to Humboldt County, confined on June 29th, only to be release with a dismissal of all charges, on July 22, 2010, by the District Attorney of Humboldt County, Kelly Neel.
Detective Robert Martinez of the Arcata Police Department repeatedly informed both me and my mother, that he has a strong case with both physical and internal injuries including tearing that I suffered during the course of the crime along with two written affidavits generated by Arcata Detective Robert Martinez that were very damaging to the perpetrator. Detective Martinez was appalled and disappointed by the dismissal of charges of [name of accused redacted].
Prosecuting Deputy District Attorney, Kelly Neel, was very excited to try this case and felt fully confident to pursue it through an exchange of emails with my mother. I wear a hearing aide and have difficulty with hearing loss so I am unable to talk on the phone but provided my email to DA Kelly Neel, who swapped my case right under the carpet and took full advantage of my disability. There were no doubts in Ms. Neel’s information that this serious offender was going to walk free only to prowl on his next victim.
It was my mother who stumbled over the dismissal of charges; otherwise, I had no way of knowing that this offender was released.
DA Kelly Neel told my mother it was evidentiary. Detective Martinez tells me there was plenty of evidence including medical evaluation reports and my swollen face when slammed against the bathroom basin by my perpetuator. What has gone wrong here? Was anyone going to tell me that my offender was freed? Surely, my perpetrator should have at least had an assault charge against him with probation or jail time.
As a victim, I am requesting a thorough investigation from your office in the interest of justice for victims who are swept under the carpet based on the fact that they just don’t want to do their job.
The Humboldt County Grand Jury found that “Weak leadership and poor managerial practices” have undermined the Humboldt District Attorney Office and that current management exhibits a limited understanding of how things are done in the department. Staff members are saying that Mr. Gallegos lacks the global perspective needed to keep the department operating efficiently and that he does not fully understand the functionality of many of things they do in the office.
It is apparent through my family’s research that cases are repeatedly dismissed, charges reduced and where the Humboldt DA Office has gone soft on the serious offenders is explicit of a pattern of behavior that repeatedly sacrifices justice and lets criminals off with light or no sentences at all. Many serious cases have ended up like mine all involving explosive evidence that would put the offender behind bars or at least a probation punishment.
I am requesting the highest power to get involved in this tightly knit county that continues to dismiss serious cases that would otherwise be prosecuted at the fullest extent of the law. Criminals are walking away with slaps on the wrist by dismissing their charges and giving defendants what they want. It is my opinion that Paul Gallegos simply isn’t following the law with regard to dismissals and plea agreements.
The following information is provided to your Office of Attorney General so you may carry out your mission to investigate and restore justice for victims like myself. The officials involved are:
Detective Robert Martinez
Arcata Police Department
Special Services Unit
Email HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com
Phone: (707) 825-2512
Police Report #10-1306
Paul Gallegos, District Attorney
Humboldt District Attorney Office
825 5th Street, 4th Floor
Eureka, CA 95501
Kelly Neel, Deputy District Attorney
Humboldt District Attorney Office
825 5th Street, 4th Floor
Eureka, CA 95501
As a student I had aspirations of higher education with two academic scholarships and one athletic scholarship at Humboldt State University. This crime has caused me great mental and physical trauma in which I am required to take a leave of absence from college for six (6) months. As a victim, I deserve better justice than what I have received.
I look forward to a favorable response in which justice may be restored by holding even the District Attorney’s Office to the highest standard of law.
[Name and address of alleged victim redacted]
The thing is - among many things here - a Deputy DA should not be put in a position where she is talking to the press - it is the DA's job to discuss cases, and then very judiciously, NOT the Deputy DA's job and it is unfair to put them in this position, and very bad judgement in this instance.
Who is running the DA's Office?